On Friday 19th March Boeing, NASA, AFRL and Cranfield Aerospace Limited celebrated the 80th successful flight of Boeing Research & Technology’s Blended Wing Body subscale demonstrator aircraft, X-48B.

This record breaking 80th flight also concluded the successful completion of the first flight testing phase which commenced from NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Centre, California during the summer of 2007.   Boeing Research & Technology developed the unmanned X-48B flight test aircraft in co-operation with NASA and the US Air Force research Laboratory in California, together with a dedicated team from Cranfield Aerospace, utilising their rapid prototyping, design and manufacture technologies.

Since inception, a team comprising Boeing, NASA and Cranfield Aerospace engineers have worked together, to undertake this successful initial test flight phase, based at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Centre.  The X-48B will now undergo a short period of routine inspection and maintenance whilst the flight control system, designed by Cranfield Aerospace, is upgraded. The system will then commence a second extensive flight test programme in support of the NASA Environmentally Responsible Aviation (ERA) Programme.

The X-48B unquestionably now holds the record for the number of test flights performed by an unmanned X-Plane at NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, the record previously held by the X-45 aircraft with a total of 40 flights. Cranfield Aerospace is proud to continue its unique relationship with Boeing and NASA on this prestigious programme.

Video footage of the system is available on the NASA website at http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/podcasting/nasa360/nasa360-x48b.html.

For further information on this programme or CAe’s capabilities in Unmanned Air Systems Technologies, please contact us.